The View Through Different Eyes

There is a meme seen on social media, showing a large deer in the middle of a road enclosed by woods.

Under the photo are the words “The deer is not crossing the road. A road is crossing his forest.”

I often come back to this idea when considering American history.

What we are reading, seeing, believing, remembering, and forgetting depends entirely on whose eyes through which we are viewing things.

When history is only a list of powerful men, then the first word we think of is “president” when we hear the names Washington or Lincoln.

It is human nature to be lazy when assigning names, labels, and meanings to things…and people.




By becoming the first president of the USA, Washington became an icon, a symbol upon which people hung all of their ideas about the meaning of the word “president”.

And that’s it.  “George Washington” = “First President”.

Yet anyone who knew him during the 57 years before he became a head of state in 1789 would have known a completely different man to the “symbol” created by 230 years of projection and myth-making.

Standing in the shoes of someone who knew the pre-presidency Washington, we see first and foremost a cartographer, surveyor, and land speculator.

Put in the bluntest possible terms, from the time of his service to the crown in the 1750s French and Indian War, Washington saw soldiery, surveying, and map-making as a way to acquire “title” to vast tracts of land.

Whether fighting for or against the British, his eye remained firmly fixed on the main prize – access to land.

And more land.

When the British and French reached peace terms after the 1750s, the British issued a proclamation that Cherokee and other tribal lands to the west were to remain unsettled and unmolested by American colonists. This was not so much a reflection of British benevolence, but an attempt to leave native territories as a form of buffer between lands claimed by Britain, France, and Spain.

This was a cause for some alarm in the mind of our overly-acquisitive Mr. Washington, who had already hatched clear plans for the Indian country.

In a letter to a fellow surveyor in 1767, Washington was explicit when he wrote:

“…I can never look upon the Proclamation in any other light (but this I say between ourselves) than as a temporary expedient to quiet the minds of the Indians. It must fall, of course, in a few years, especially when those Indians consent to our occupying those lands. Any person who neglects hunting out good lands, and in some measure marking and distinguishing them for his own, in order to keep others from settling them will never regain it. If you will be at the trouble of seeking out the lands, I will take upon me the part of securing them, as soon as there is a possibility of doing it and will, moreover, be at all the cost and charges surveying and patenting the same . . . . By this time it be easy for you to discover that my plan is to secure a good deal of land. You will consequently come in for a handsome quantity.”

Seen in this light, the motivations for elites such as George Washington taking-up arms against the British Crown become rather more complex.




When Washington assumed office in 1789, the non-indigenous population of Kentucky stood at around 72,000 squatters, settlers, and colonisers.

By the time he died 10 years later, Kentucky’s population had swelled to over 221,000.

To encourage settlement, land speculators promised a pre-surveyed “empty land” of natural riches. Kentucky was characterised as a rarely-visited “neutral hunting ground”, uninhabited by indigenous peoples.

This was all a lie, of course.

Cherokee. Chickasaw. Delaware. Mosopelea. Shawnee. Wyandot. Yuchi. French. French Métis.

All of these people were already present in Kentucky, and the land speculators knew it full well. They would leave it to the settlers to defend the land sold “with title”.




The myth persists to this day in the minds of many Americans that the Indians of Kentucky were only itinerant hunters, and that they either “sold their rights”, or eventually “moved-on” from “white” encroachment.

In fact, many, many indigenous people remained, reduced to an impoverished underclass in their own home as their communities fragmented under pressure.

Native American women were particularly vulnerable, with many becoming “consorts” to incoming settlers, due to “white” women being extremely scarce during the earliest days.

This would all have been largely forgotten, except for a few things: the digital revolution, affordable DNA testing, folklore, and a few ragged surviving photographs.

So now, when we read a notice from a newspaper published in 1909, mentioning the passing of old “Mrs. Barrett” – born “Barbara Hensley” in 1830 – it is possible and necessary to consider that some women were not quite who we presume them to have been.

The Origin of “Okies”

Dorothea Lange‘s photographic series Migrant Woman is easily THE most recognised series of iconic images documenting and representing the misery of the Great Depression in Dustbowl Oklahoma.
These were the people forced onto the road, with thousands living in tent cities along dusty highways.
For many, those highways led west.  California became the land of hope in the imagination of the impoverished, a golden dream soon crushed by the reality of life as field laborers, forced to endure hunger while living in squalid camps, forced to accept wage exploitation by large commercial agricultural interests.
These people swept up in events beyond their control were written about with great compassion by John Steinbeck in his novel The Grapes of Wrath, published in 1939.
What few realise, is that the woman in this series of photographs – Florence Leona Thompson (born Florence Christie) – was a woman with deep roots in multi-ethnic Southern Appalachia.
Long before Latino peoples became the archetypal source of migrant farm labour, America drew on its own inland underclass for a cheap migrant workforce.
Multi-ethnic American families have often been disparagingly, disgracefully, and inaccurately described as “white trash”.  Some of these same people later appear on history’s stage as “Okies”.
With extended kin communities in Kentucky, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia, North Georgia, Arkansas, Southern Missouri, and Oklahoma, these people regularly dispersed into Ohio, Indiana, Michigan and elsewhere to supply bodies and numbers for the back-breaking labour of crop-picking.
The actual ethnic roots of women like Florence Christie are mostly forgotten, because most Americans today believe that one of two things befell indigenous Americans:
1) They simply disappeared or “went extinct” through disease and warfare
2) They all ended-up on federal “Indian Reservations”
The actual ethnic roots of women like Florence Christie are also mostly forgotten, because most Americans today believe that people who are NOT extinct, or NOT on a reservation, and are not “black” or not “Latino”, MUST be “white”.
These are the falsehoods, and this is the lack of understanding, at the heart of the American caste system.
Florence Christie was not “white”.  Nor was she “black”, “red” or “mulatto”.  She was Cherokee, Welsh, Irish, and more.
After years of investigations, I have come to call these people “Old Mix Americans“.
Most of all, she was a human being – a woman who felt shamed by becoming the face of Depression Era degradation and poverty.
John Steinbeck, the man who wrote the truth as he saw it, had to start carrying a pistol “just in case”.
Large landholders in California didn’t take kindly to what they viewed as “communist” interference in their capitalist “rights”.
The Grapes of Wrath was one of the earliest books to be burned and banned in some parts of America.
A sure sign that it is a book well worth reading.

J. D. Vance and Misbegotten Memoirs

In the USA, “self identity” is a privilege often enjoyed only by those people with access to the levers of power.

Property. Money. Education. Social connections. Weapons. The right skin colour.

A man called J. D. Vance (his own name the product of a selected identity) wrote a book four years ago at the ripe old age of 32 called Hillbilly Elegy, in which he purported to explain the source of many Appalachian social problems. A successful venture capitalist, he offered his advice for “bootstrap” solutions to these problems.

J. D. Vance goes big on “poor white people”, because that is how he chooses to perceive his so-called “hillbilly” identity.

In his book, he speaks of his “Scots-Irish” roots and “Scots-Irish” cultural traditions, and the trans-generational effect he believes these people had on the creation of an “Appalachian mentality”.

His book has received endless blurbs and praise from the urban “intelligentsia” press, eager to find an easily digestible answer or simple reason for rural Appalachian poverty and voting habits.

For “voting habits”, read “Republican or Trump voters”.

At this writing, director Ron Howard is making a film based on this carefully curated memoir.

Mr. Vance is wrong, utterly wrong, about the historical causes of Appalachian poverty. Even more than this, Mr. Vance misrepresents his own cultural roots, whether by design or ignorance.

The ultimate foundational myth of Appalachia revolves around a predominantly “Scots-Irish” identity.

An identity designed to meet all of the right criteria. Non-British, Protestant, rebellious, and “white”.

A fake identity, if you will.

Old Data, New Data

Map left showing Appalachian counties supporting Union (yellow) Map right showing Appalachian regions most likely to use racial slurs in search terms on Google (red)

Map left showing Appalachian counties supporting Union (yellow) Map right showing Appalachian regions most likely to use racial slurs in search terms on Google (red)


The map on the left was compiled during the Civil War era.  The map on the right is the recent result of Google Analytics data.

Most people inclined to think about it have always seen the Civil War in terms of a simple North/South divide.

The literary-minded among us grew up aware of The Mason-Dixon Line in song and history, believing that just a few degrees of latitude determined a geographically and ideologically simple division between “Yankeedom” and “Dixie”.

Twern’t so, however.

“Appalachia”, the great ridge separating “The East” from “The West” in the American imagination, has always existed as a separate entity unto itself.

The yellow fields in the map on the left represent counties which voted AGAINST secession from the Union. A good eye will notice that in the 1860s, Union sympathies could be seen in a rough pattern corresponding to the most mountainous parts of West Virginia, the hills of western Pennsylvania, East Tennessee, Northern Alabama and North Georgia, with Eastern Kentucky trying to sit on the fence.

What was going on – that this backbone of Union sympathy extended like a worrisome splinter right down into the flesh of the so-called “Deep South”?

But an even more interesting question arises from the map on the right side.

Like an almost devilish alter-ego, the spine of hills and hollers which were once stubborn outposts of resistance to the Confederacy have turned into something different altogether.

The red areas on the modern map correspond roughly to the yellow counties on the old map.

But this time, red represents those places in the USA most likely to use the “N-word” and other racist terms in Google searches and social media analytics.

What changed, and why?




Actions taken by the Tennessee state legislature in the years preceding the Civil War furnish an example of how laws can have a profound effect on personal and public identities, then and now.

The new 1834 Constitution of Tennessee reset the limits of the voting franchise, depriving free persons of color” of their right of suffrage.

The new Constitution read:

“Every free white [author’s bold type] man of the age of twenty-one years, being a citizen of the United States, and a citizen of the county wherein he may offer his vote, six months next preceding the day of election, shall be entitled to vote for members of the General Assembly, and other civil officers for the county or district in which he resides.”

This one-word change to Tennessee’s first state Constitution brought it largely in line with with the norm in neighbouring states.

But why did Tennessee differ in the first place?

Why did free blacks have the right to vote under the first state Constitution?


As ever more repressive race laws came into force in places like Virginia and the Carolinas, the free people of color who had been present there since the early 1600s found themselves ostracised, in an atmosphere of repression and violence.  The danger of being kidnapped and sold into slavery became a daily reality.

The mountains and valleys, hills and hollers of eastern Kentucky and Tennessee became a magnet for this lowest section of the American underclasses, along with various hunters, trappers, war veterans, bandits, runaway slaves and indentured servants.

In addition to these came an array of impoverished Germans, Jews, Gypsies, Swedes, Welsh, Scottish, English, Irish, South Asians, and many others.

ALL of these peoples intermixed in varying degrees with each other, and with the indigenous populations of Southern Appalachia, creating America’s first truly multi-ethnic community.

In 1790, a half-Cherokee, half Welsh man named “Thomas” didn’t care if his neighbour “Solomon” was quarter African, quarter Creek Indian, and half German, as long as he could fire a long rifle when the Chickamauga attacked their blockhouse fort.

And Thomas certainly wasn’t going to deny Solomon his right to vote once things settled down a few years later.

So for thirty or forty years, Southern Appalachia – especially in its remotest, rockiest places where land was free or cheap – remained a refuge for people of every ethnicity.

But the bigoted and greedy never rest, and by the 1830s, greedy, violent bigots had their eyes firmly fixed on more slavery, and more land.

Indian land.

Families who were “living as Indians” were forced out of their homes at gunpoint, rounded-up, and herded west like so many cattle.

Mixed-ethnic families who were “living as whites” had their voting rights removed.

The resentment felt by these mixed-ethnic mountain communities surely contributed to their mostly pro-Union sentiment at the outbreak of the Civil War.

Which of course led to an inordinate level of suffering at the hands of Confederate bushwhackers.

The eventual triumph of Union troops did not improve their lot.

If anything, prospects for mixed-ethnic Appalachians became worse than ever with the advent of post-war Jim Crow laws and the restoration of “white” supremacy between 1880 and 1930.

Being seen as anything less than 100% “white” carried grave social consequences in terms of access to education, access to jobs, and a loss of personal dignity.

It is a huge oversimplification to put it this way, but whereas African-Americans in the Deep South could agitate for civil rights as a community – a community descended from the formerly enslaved – isolated mixed-ethnic mountain people who were descended from “free people of color” had no such power in numbers.

So instead of marching for “brown rights”, many JUST CHOSE TO SELF-IDENTIFY AS “WHITE”.

Dark complexions were explained by the existence of the now proverbial “Cherokee great-grandmother”.

Acceptable ethnic descriptors, often with a grain of truth to them, came into common use.  “Black Dutch”.  “Portuguese”.  “Black Irish”.

Even people with only one or two remote ancestors from Ulster (representing perhaps 1/64th of their ancestry), proclaimed themselves as “pure Scots-Irish”.

And the tragedy, the absurdity of American race-based identity reaches its zenith, as a person on social media shares a vintage photo of a clearly mixed-ethnic great-great-grandmother.

One person comments “Oh my goodness. She looks part Indian.”

Another opines that she might be “Melungeon“, an epithet implying part African ancestry.

Another chimes in with “Why’d you say that? There are loads of people in Ireland with a dark complexion and black hair. We’re Scots-Irish!”.

Round and round the arguments fly.

And thinking people are left to ponder the meaning of two maps, separated by 150 years and thousands of lives lived in the cold shadow of “race identity”.


#BeforeWeWereWhite #union #confederate #racism #ethnicity

“Whiteness” in America

Cowboys of every ethnicity

Cowboys of every ethnicity


The concept of “race” can be viewed from opposite ends of a long spectrum.

At one end are scientists and geneticists, who do not recognise the existence of separate “races” at all.

At the other end are racists.  In common parlance, “racist” has come to simply mean a person who hates other people based on their perceived “race”, but this is not the whole picture.

Any person – even a very nice person – who believes that a human being with ancestry from a specific geographic region, with a certain outward appearance, is fundamentally different to certain others, is also a “racist”, of sorts.

When we hold popular folk beliefs such as “Koreans are born better at math”, or “African-Americans have natural rhythm”, or “Jewish people are prone to neuroses”, that is also racism, whether ill-meant or not.

Of course, the most extreme racists believe that some human beings are innately superior to other humans due to genetic inheritance, period.

Between these poles are anthropologists, social activists, cultural commentators, writers, artists, and most of the rest of us.  People who, for various reasons, choose to accept the concept of “races”, if only as a simple shorthand way of describing the lived experience of specific cultural or ethnic groupings.

It is easy for a certain class of contemporary educated liberal to proclaim that “race is a social construct”, without ever needing to lay out exactly what that means – especially when people clearly suffer real-world consequences due to their apparent “race”.

Even the most kind-hearted, non-bigoted “white” person in the world will look at someone from Sub-Saharan Africa, and someone from Korea, and say “They aren’t the same race as me”.

How can race be a “social construct” if certain population groups look so different to one another?

This is a justified and legitimate question, and luckily, it is a question which can be answered.  Not with a simple answer, mind you, but with an answer nonetheless.

That is where this podcast comes in.


This is not a science podcast.  This is a history podcast.

For over 500 years of American history post-Columbus, most people in the Americas have believed in “race”, as surely as most people in the Americas have believed in the Middle-Eastern God of Abraham.

So when we look at American history, it is of little use trying to interpret the common American understanding of “race” through the eyes of a scientist, because science did not begin to address the concept of “race” until the past century or so.

This podcast will most certainly invite science in the door where appropriate, but for the most part, we will try to view the world of the past through the eyes of our less-schooled ancestors – the people who constructed the idea of “races”.

A world of black people, white people, Chinamen, Red Indians, mulattos, half-breeds, and Asian Indians.  A world of pagan savages, Christians, “Hindoos”, and “Mohammatens”.


Ask any contemporary “heartland” American (racist or non-racist) what’s in their ancestral melting-pot, and one will invariably hear about Irish or “Scotch-Irish“, along with English, Welsh, Scottish, German, and perhaps a few French, Dutch, Poles, Italians, and Scandinavians.

Many today will even allow for a “Cherokee great-grandmother”, now that being part indigenous American is fashionable rather than something to deny.

Most of the aforementioned ancestors of heartland Americans are imagined to have been good and honest, hard-working, God-fearing “white folks” seeking a better life away from “tyranny” or “religious persecution”.

When asked about their present ethnicity, these “heartlanders” are the people most likely to self-identify simply as “white” and “American”.

By now you will have noticed the repeated use of the term “heartland”. In a cultural/political landscape which is currently deeply polarised, this word carries a lot of freight for both progressives and conservatives.

It is important to make absolutely clear what is meant by the term “heartland” in the context of this podcast…

It is first and foremost not a coded slur for people in red hats who vote a certain way.  It is not an “acceptable” code for other unacceptable terms such as “redneck”, “hillbilly”, “Bible-thumper”, or “white trash”.

Throughout the life of this blog and podcast, “heartland” will be used to mean the following:

people and communities with deep and extensive roots in rural and small-town America

people and communities whose ancestors were directly involved in the events of the colonial and frontier eras

people and communities who usually self-identify as being working-class or middle class, Christian, “white”, and “American”

These are some of the people most inclined to value ideals of “liberty” and “freedom”, and tend to see these almost sacred ideals as a direct by-product of “American Exceptionalism“.

Buried in this description of heartland America, though, are two tiny words with a universe of violence, war, and politics contained within them.


Heartland Americans almost always self-identify as “white”.

Heartland Americans, on the whole, however, often claim to disdain “identity politics”.

Identity politics is seen as a recent development, in which liberal “victim culture” seeks to defy “common sense”, while trying to dictate what words we can use to describe others and the world we inhabit.

In fact, the essence of American history, America’s original sin, the dark heart at the core of all American mythology, is “identity politics”.

One group who self-identifies as “X”, and then claims exclusive rights to identify “others” as “Y” and “Z”.

So of course much of heartland America hates identity politics.

They accepted the concept, and embraced the concept, for centuries.  And now they’ve lost control of it.




For people who do believe in the concept of “race” and choose to self-identify as “white”, what exactly counts as “white”?

Let’s set aside our distaste for a moment, and entertain the definition of “white people” as promulgated by racists and white supremacists.

To a white supremacist, the essence of “whiteness” is Central or Northern European ancestry.  White supremacists are deeply, deeply enamoured of historical groups like the Franks, the Saxons, the Angles, the Celts, and of course, their “Gold Standard” of whiteness, the people of Scandinavia – especially Vikings.

To white supremacists, all things “white” and “good” radiate out from a Northern and Central European ancestral homeland into regions with lessening degrees of “proper whiteness” as one travels south and eastwards, into the lands of southern Spain and Italy, into the dubiously Slavic Balkans and swarthy Greece, until reaching the doorstep of the Turks, “Araby“, India, on towards the Far East, and God forbid, down into darkest Africa.

Almost every self-identified “white” heartland American, if they cared to dig, would find that they utterly fail to clear this “racial purity” bar set by so many self-appointed gatekeepers of “whiteness”.

In fact, if “whiteness” really is the exclusive preserve of Northern and North Central European peoples, then heartland Americans – the people with deepest roots in underclass colonial America – are quite possibly the least “white” people to ever call themselves “white” – at least by the measure of white supremacists.

The fact is, in American history, “being white” has almost nothing to do with actual genetic ancestry.  Being “white” means belonging to a social caste conjured out of thin air, and one which is continuously mutable, depending on the prevailing social conditions.

Many people today falsely assume that racism caused, or at least allowed, slavery to develop.  Over the course of this podcast, we will discover that the reverse is true.

Greed, and the desire for slave labor to feed this greed, led humans to invent excuses and self-justifying arguments in favor of slavery.

An obvious difference between the enslavers and the enslaved had to be found – some clear factor which could allow “the othering” to begin.  Something able to gain widespread acceptance.

Perhaps surprisingly, that “obvious difference” – at least in the beginning – was not skin color.

During the 1600s, in a world steeped in Christian religiosity, with deeply ingrained social class systems, the people usually considered suitable for bonded servitude and enslavement could be drawn from many sources: the impoverished underclasses, orphaned children, criminals, prisoners-of-war, and non-Christians such as Asian Indians, Moors, sub-Saharan Africans, and indigenous Americans.

Colonial America presented slaveholders with a singular problem, however.  Indentured servants and slaves who looked relatively similar to their masters could always run away.  They could change their names and start a new life elsewhere.  Native American slaves could disappear and blend back into their own communities beyond the frontier and reach of European settlements.

This is why, over many decades, “African-ness” became the ultimate property-tracking device.  Racism was born of banal convenience.

A Spaniard can look like a Berber.  A Romani Gypsy can look like a Shawnee.  A Portuguese might look like a South Asian.  An Italian might look Turkish.  A “mulatto” might look Arab or Persian.  Brown skin can be a very ambiguous guide to one’s ethnic origins.

But someone with sub-Saharan features can only rarely dispute having sub-Saharan African ancestry.  “Black” became less about actual skin shade and color, and more about specific identifying features or phenotypes.


Until the late 1600s and early 1700s when legislators and slaveholders finally settled on sub-Saharan Africans as their chosen slave caste, colonial America had actually been the melting-pot of yore for decades – especially among its disempowered underclasses.

Most people today would be astonished to hear that in 1720, perhaps 20% of the population of Virginia was comprised of people classified as “free blacks”, or “free persons of colour”.

Much of heartland America is in fact descended from this roiling, ethnically-mixed underclass of convicts, indentured servants, “illegitimate” slaveholder offspring, prostitutes, common field laborers, Gypsies, fighters and soldiers, runaway slaves, land squatters, itinerant preachers, washerwomen, displaced indigenous peoples, spinners, ship-jumping sailors, beggars, slave traders, miners, dreamers, peddlers, hunters and trappers, pimps and subsistence farmers – with ancestry drawn from five continents.

Yes, five continents.  Not two, not three.  Five.

Anglo-America’s crude binary racial caste system left a vast population of ethnically complex “brown” people embroiled in a decades and centuries-long struggle to ensure they were planted firmly on the sunny side of the black/white divide.

To prevent backsliding from their improved, safer social status, once a family or community reached the Holy Grail of “whiteness” they then had to “act white”.

Really, really white.

“Acting whiteness” was founded upon a three-legged stool of:

“Patriotism”, expressed in the free exercise of voting rights and a willingness to support the take-up arms in defence of mutable ideals of “freedom” and “liberty”,

“Christianity”, expressed through church attendance, professing faith, and testifying, and

“Supremacy”, a deep-seated mistrust of and sense of superiority over those “others” who do not look or act “white” enough.

Privilege and social standing are not the only things which came with “whiteness”.

Whiteness also bestowed – by simple birthright – an innate sense of pride in being part of the “Heroic Story of America”.

Pilgrim Fathers.  Settlers at Jamestown.  Minutemen.  Paul BunyanJohnny Appleseed.  The Boston Tea Party.  The Revolution.  The Frontier.  The War of 1814. Log cabins.  The Taming of the West.  Cowboys.  Cavalry.  Buffalo Bill.  The railroads.  Tom Sawyer.  Country music.  Great inventors.

All of this and more has been commandeered as “The Story of America”, performed exclusively by people who call themselves “white”.

This performative culture has been going on for centuries, right up to the present day.

We are now at the stage where there is a real danger that no one, bar a few specialist scholars (and people of color), will be left to remember that American “whiteness” has always been an act; a confidence trick.  The lie has been made flesh, the myth has been made a widely-accepted reality.




This podcast will not be a “liberal” hatchet-job on heartland America.

This writer and podcaster was born in Missouri, and spent his childhood moving between there and Tennessee, Arizona, Mississippi, and Oklahoma, attending ten different schools between 1970 and 1980, while his working-class (and often deeply dysfunctional) family chased after The American Dream.

We owned guns, and we rode in the back of pick-up trucks.  We hunted and we fished.  This writer was not educated in the hallowed halls of any Ivy League college.

This writer was not unfamiliar with life in a trailer park, or twice-a-week Bible School in an evangelical “dunking” church.  This writer joined the army on his 17th birthday.

Heartland Americans are my people, for better or for worse.




Heartland America has always supplied the people willing to do the “dirty work” for the American political and industrialist class and their projects.  More often than not, they have been lied to, poorly rewarded, and ill-used by the people they served.

But contrary to current evidence and much urban liberal orthodoxy, this USA heartland is not uniquely foolish, bigoted, racist or wicked compared to the people of any other nation.

The USA as a whole, though, is highly unique in a couple of fundamental ways:

1) The historically recent mass acquisition of land and resources (including slave labor and criminally cheap labor) created a situation which allowed many “white” people of relatively poor educational attainment to achieve a higher living standard than similarly skilled people of a comparable educational level in most other places in the world.

2) The USA is also utterly singular in the way the resultant wealth and military power has allowed it, more than any other nation, to project its own mythology, “conjured reality”, and self-image onto the world stage – all while steadfastly refusing to face into an accurate account of how other humans, land and resources were acquired and developed in order to generate its wealth and power.

In 2020, the USA finds itself in an existential crisis, having become a nation at war with itself.  This is the tornado created when the warm winds of mythology meet the cold winds of reality.

Weathering this storm will not suffice.  For the USA to flourish in the aftermath, it will have to survey the wreckage, save what is worth saving, and start from scratch.  The new house will need to be built on better foundations, with a roof big enough to offer shelter to all its children.

We must stop repeating the “official” stories told to us by the powerful, and remind ourselves that indoctrination and leadership are not the same thing.  Our forebears knew this.  The songs they sang about it still exist – train songs, Dust Bowl songs, coal mining songs…

Nothing is more powerful than the stories we tell ourselves about ourselves, if those stories are based on truths drawn from the reality of our own lived experiences.

We must unbind the filthy poultice of “official memory” which only serves to hide the gaping, festering wound underneath – a wound infected by secrets, lies, and hypocrisy.

As the great American author Cormac McCarthy once wrote, “our cries are for an accounting…”

If we cannot have a proper accounting just yet, then the plain, unvarnished Truth might do for a start.

As stated, this podcast will not be a “liberal” hatchet-job on heartland America.  It is an attempt to release many good Americans from the heavy shackles of “acting white”.  Heartland American history and culture is far richer and more complex than can be described by a skin color or wrapped up tidily in a red, white, and blue flag.

This podcast is the product of many years of obsessive research into the real and oft-times obscure ethnic origins of thousands upon thousands of real heartland American families.

Using documentary, photographic, and the latest DNA evidence, the show will attempt to help set the record straight on one of the most enduring and damaging lies at the core of heartland American self-identity – “whiteness”.   In the process, we will also discover a more accurate depiction of American history in general.

This is about the time Before We Were White.